Cancun vacation

After discovering that Cancun, Mexico, was a short two hour flight from Orlando, and inexpensive even with “all inclusive”, we just returned from a week at the El Caribe Deluxe where we spent lots of time at the pool, a little in the ocean (big waves most of the week!), and ate too much (“all inclusive” as I said!)

Here’s some photos of the hotel, ocean, sunrises, food choices, …

We ate in a buffet restaurant most nights, with a different theme each time – best was (no surprise) the Mexican theme, with lots of flavors to try, and much better to try “risk free” in a buffet setting where you can leave anything you don’t like!

One disadvantage of the Cancun location was there’s really nothing but hotels along the beach, nothing much to walk too – and a busy divided highway anyway! But we did find and walk to a set of ruins one morning, El Rey, very inexpensive ($7 for both of us!) and quite interesting (including all the Iguanas!)

Mind, even though we walked there as soon as it opened (8am) it was still crazy hot walking back! Back to the hotel pool to cool off …

Cancun is a nice location for total relaxation, but not enough to do if more than poolside is wanted …


Magic Kingdom, quiet day …

Hurricane Dorian has driven many Disney visitors away, leaving the parks much quieter for us … after Animal Kingdom yesterday we headed to Magic Kingdom today. We had fast passes for Peter Pan (normally very hard to get) as well as Haunted Mansion and Buzz Lightyear – but lines were really short; 4 minutes on to Pirates of the Caribbean, about the same for Splash Mountain and not much more for Thunder Mountain, walk-on for It’s A Small World and Little Mermaid; we also did Mickeys Philharmagic, Winnie The Pooh, TTA, and Jungle Jim Cruise – and got normally impossible to book dinner at Be Our Guest (at any time we wanted, basically!)

Here’s photos from our fun, long, tiring day …


Animal Kingdom Safari, twice

We headed to Disney Animal Kingdom this afternoon, with a fast pass for the safari ride; but when we got there (before our fast pass time) the wait time for the regular line reported 15 minutes – and it turned out that we walked right the way on to the vehicle with no wait at all! Chatting with staff, they said “everyone is at Star Wars” (and no doubt the threat of a hurricane has quieted the parks, too!)

After our safari, we still had our fast pass – so we went a second time; it was amazing how different the animals were, just an hour later. A single Hippo the first time, five or more the second time. Giraffe all clustered under trees sheltering from the rain on the second trip, while Wildebeest were now all spread out. And the White Rhino apparently pleased with the rain, were in their mud hole on the second drive! Photos:

We also got a few Disney photos, including with Mickey & Minnie Mouse …

How Winter Garden earned it’s vibe

An interesting article, curiously published in Mount Dora Buzz!

It’s unlike any other city  in Florida.  Downtown Winter Garden has the authentic vibe of small-town America, yet has integrated trendy dining and shopping options with family-friendly local attractions like the West Orange Trail and its impressive farmers market.   

Winter Garden’s seemingly meteoric rise from blight to bustle has been anything but.   Its masterful transformation was two decades in the making and required a gutsy vision and dogged commitment that other cities would find difficult to broach, let alone maintain.   While other city governments floundered to find direction, Winter Garden officials stepped up with progressive planning, and its elected officials consistently supported the vision resulting in the vibrant Winter Garden of today.

  • In 1992, Winter Garden established a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to gain the tools needed to foster and support the redevelopment of the Downtown Historic District.   The goal of the CRA is to promote sustainable economic growth and improve the commercial viability and residential livability of  neighborhoods within the area through projects like streetscaping, parks, parking, infrastructure improvements, street trees and landscaping. ​
  • 1997-1998 – The West Orange Trail was built through downtown Winter Garden which connected it to other communities and made it a popular destination. 

Downtown Winter Garden has been preserved, in large part, due to its high architectural design standards and attention to details.  In some cities, high standards result in project delays and frustrated developers. Not so in Winter Garden. Rather than simply deny a good project or place the burden solely on the developer, the City has provided designers to collaborate with developers in order to meet Winter Garden’s lofty requirements while preventing unnecessary delays.  The result is a win-win for the City and the developer.

  • The West Orange Trail runs through the center of downtown WinterGarden and has made it a cycling destination that draws an estimated 100,000 visitors a month.
  • The award-winning Farmers Market draws 6,000 people every Saturday and serves as a business incubator.  It has become a top reason why people decide to move to the City.  
  • The Garden Theater opened in 2008. The 9818 square feet venue has 299 seats, is programmed 365 days a year and draws 60,000 visitors a year.

Head to Mount Dora Buzz for the full article.


Egg processing at Lake Meadows

We visited Lake Meadows Naturals early today, to catch a tour of their egg processing plant – which considering they have 14,000 hens and have so very many eggs for sale, is a pretty small place!

The tour explained that the eggs first pass over a bright light to inspect for cracks (done by hand), then are washed, dried, and then electronically weighed and sorted into sizes – that was interesting to watch, with little arms flicking out to kick each egg into it’s appropriate size area! People on the tour were allowed to box their own eggs from whichever size they chose (and then hopefully they paid for them!)

Outside, many hens wandered about; they have lots of space but seem to like being together. Margaret passed some grass through the fence and loads of birds ran over to join the bonus feast! When there’s no visitors touring, the hens have free reign over the meadow and so as much grass as they want …

Here’s some photos of the processing equipment, and some of the hens:

We of course finished our visit buying our own eggs (and feeding the goats and sheep).

Here’s also a video that shows the Egg size sorting…